By Scott Marshall
Vancouver, Canada - The second world congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) opened Monday in Vancouver. Guy Ryder(center), ITUC general secretary and Sharan Burrow, ITUC president, were joined by Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress in a pre-congress press conference.
Each gave a brief opening statement. Each blasted different aspects of the economic crisis and its impact on working people. And each blamed the crisis on the greed of the banks and financial institutions. Georgetti put it this way, “Our principal is that if you make a mess, whether drilling, mining or financial, then you have to clean it up.”
The labor leaders said that the current crisis shows the need for “fundamental” change. Ryder said the ITUC was about building international solidarity in the workplace from the bottom up to give workers a voice at the table of international financial institutions like the G-20, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
Georgetti noted that the “greedy” voices already have a permanent place at the table, but labor and workers have to fight to be heard at all. Ryder further noted that the glaring inequalities of the crisis provides an opportunity for basic change.
The ITUC leaders argued strongly against the austerity programs being put forward by world governments. They noted that it is global stimulus efforts that have saved 20 million jobs world wide. Ryder said that the ITUC will continue to fight austerity drives full force. He said that some leaders of affiliated national labor federations will be absent from the congress because they are leading mass mobilizations in their countries. He gave as an example that several key French labor leaders would not be able to come because they are organizing mass actions against the Sarkozy government’s pension “reforms” that will hurt workers by raising retirement ages and taxes on workers.
Burrow said there can be no economic recovery without “jobs, jobs, jobs.” The ITUC is working with affiliates to build for massive coordinated workers protests against the crisis on September 29th around the world. The Spanish affiliates are already calling for a general strike for the day.
More coverage of the ITUC congress to follow.
From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.